‘Closure of the estates was the right decision’ – Ramjattan

Supporters of the PPP at the protest line on Saturday
Supporters of the PPP at the protest line on Saturday

Public Security Minister and Leader of the Alliance for Change Khemraj Ramjattan, was on Saturday again greeted by protesting supporters of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic during a public meeting at Corriverton, Upper Corentyne, Region Six.

The protesters accused Ramjattan of betraying sugar workers by colluding to close the sugar estates, and bombarded him for the street lights that the APNU/AFC Government had promised to install at Corriverton. They also accused him of turning a blind eye on the upsurge in crime.

There were also placards that indicated to the minister that the tears of sugar workers were falling on him, and there were placards demanding the G$10,000 cash grant.

“When we got into office, we (knew) that sugar was not profitable, and we decided to right-size sugar. Right-size means that you are not going to close it down, but you would close down those estates that are unprofitable, and to privatise it if it could be privatised; and that is exactly what we did,” Ramjattan stated.

The closure of the estates has left more than 20,000 people unemployed, and the sacked workers now have to turn to alternative means to support their families.

Ramjattan, however, added that the Government made the right decision to close the estates. He said the citizenry would become filthy rich in the near future with the booming oil sector coming on stream.

At the meeting, residents asked about the street lights, but were told that Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson had offered 200 lights to the Municipality.

Ramjattan, also lashed out at the protestors and at Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo for not understanding the ruling of the Chief Justice on the house-to-house registration case.

A public announcement had stated that Ramjattan, Parliamentarian Reynard Ward, and AFC Executive member Dereck Basdeo were among those slated to speak at this public meeting. There was no mention of top APNU officials being slated to speak, although that faction of the Coalition had won seats on the Council. Region Six (East Berbice/ Corentyne) representative Barbra Pilgrim was reportedly not notified of the public meeting.

The public service announcement (PSA) had also stated that issues regarding street lights, road repairs, crime, and other concerns of Corriverton residents were going to be addressed by the Minister.

During this meeting, Basdeo accused the Town Council of being lazy, while Ramjattan told residents that the Coalition Government would have established a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the sugar estate, to determine the way forward.